Pontifications; Does the pandemic change the airliner market dynamics?

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 19, 2020, ©. Leeham News: Airbus and Boeing have dominated the world’s airliner market over the last 30 years. In the next 30 years, will this change?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the answer was no. The only viable competitor, the Chinese aircraft industry, would need more time to catch up. But the pandemic has changed the dynamics in the world.

For China COVID-19 is history. For the rest of the World not. China’s society and most noteworthy its travel industry are back to normal. September’s domestic flights were 103.5% of 2019 levels and passenger numbers were at 98% while the rest of the world is busy throttling back network plans from already low levels. We know that airlines in China are stimulating traffic with discounted fares, taking losses in the process. However, they have the backing of the government and it is traffic that ultimately drives demand for aircraft.

The Chinese system handles the crisis magnitudes better than the free world. Will the newfound Chinese self-confidence spread to bootstrapping the in-house air transport industry even further to capture the increased airliner demand?

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Bjorn’s Corner: Do I get COVID in airline cabins? Part 13. DOD tests confirm OEM results.

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 15, 2020, ©. Leeham News: Yesterday the USTRANSCOM and its US Air Force Air Mobility Command (AMC) published the results of extensive airliner COVID infection risk tests. The tests, which were made to check the risks for DOD personnel using commercial flights, were made on United 777-200 and 767-300 aircraft in cooperation with United.

The tests checked aerosol dispersion of the virus in the cabins for both simulated flights and real flights. The result was you need to sit next to an infectious person for 54 hours to inhale a viral load that could make you sick (worst case).

Figure 1. DOD tests in the cabin of United aircraft. Source: DOD.

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 2: The 787-8 analyzed

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By Bjorn Fehrm


October 15, 2020, © Leeham News: We look deeper at the 787-8, the smallest member of the Dreamliner family. After selling well initially, it has fallen out of favor with the airlines.

We analyze why by comparing it with its more successful sister, the 787-9. The 787-8 and -9 were conceived together, with the -8 as the first birth to be quickly followed by a longer version, the 787-9.

With the troubles of the program, it took three years before the longer 787 was ready. By then it was in many ways a different aircraft than the 787-8.

  • The 787-8, as the first aircraft in the 787 Dreamliner series had to crack the brunt of the program’s many problems.
  • As a result, it ended up with first try solutions in many areas where the latter 787-9 could gain from the experience and use improved designs.
  • We analyze what this means for the economy for the 787-8, both from an operational and manufacturing standpoint.

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Covid in cabins: Low risk, no silver bullet

By Bryan Corliss

Oct. 14, 2020, © Leeham News: Covid-19 has made airlines, aerospace companies and suppliers really, really sick. IATA now says it could be 2024 before worldwide travel numbers get back to something near pre-Covid levels.

To get more paying flyers back in the air sooner, the industry is looking for ways to make passengers feel more assured that they won’t get infected while in the air. It’s leading to some innovative solutions and what some industry insiders say is the setting of long-overdue standards for in-flight cleanliness.

Boeing hand-held UV light. Photo: Boeing.

Boeing developed a system using UV-C radiation to sterilize cabin surfaces. One of Boeing’s best-known suppliers, Teague, designed new gaspers to inhibit the spread of airborne virus particles. And several other suppliers are pushing forward with products that inhibit the growth – and potentially kill – viruses and other microorganisms on high-touch cabin surfaces.

Aerospace suppliers say there’s not one silver bullet that’s going to prevent the spread of Covid-19 on jets.

“Buying our material doesn’t magically make your aircraft clean,” said Mathew Nicholls, the sales director for Tapis Corp., which provides virus-resistant fabric imbedded with silver ion strands for seat covers.”

“It’s the sum of all the parts,” he said in an interview for the current edition of Northwest Aerospace News magazine. “The HEPA filters, the airflow exchange. And now we’ve added this, this and this.”

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Lessors to Take Growing Share of Fleeting the Future

By Kathryn B. Creedy

Air Lease Executive Chair Steven Udvar Hazy expects lessors to play a larger role in aircraft fleeting in the future, according to comments made during yesterday’s Aviation Week Fireside Chat with the lessor.

“I don’t see lessors going below 40%,” he told Air Transport World Editor Karen Walker. “I see it creeping up to perhaps 50% or 55% and that includes operating leases and various other exotic mechanisms.”

Udvar Hazy pointed to the poor financial shape of the world’s airlines which have used all their current levers to increase liquidity to ride out the Covid 19 crisis.

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Resuming Boeing 737 MAX deliveries

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By Vincent Valery and Scott Hamilton


Oct. 12, 2020, © Leeham News: The latest developments suggest that the FAA could lift the Boeing 737 MAX grounding by the end of November. The grounding lasted far longer than most industry insiders and Boeing expected.

Simultaneously, Boeing is working around the clock to get the ~460 737 MAXes produced since March 2019 ready for delivery to customers. The task became more complex as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Operators that previously couldn’t get 737 MAXes fast enough don’t need the extra capacity anytime soon.

Numerous airlines are in a precarious financial situation and won’t be willing or able to take new aircraft. Several lessors canceled near-term orders, while airlines are negotiating delivery delays.

With that in mind, LNA analyzes the most up-to-date delivery and production plans for the 737 MAX in future years.

  • Deliveries stretched into the future;
  • Ambitiously clearing inventory, then ramping-up production;
  • One variant represents the bulk of deliveries; and
  • Near-term deliveries by customer.

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Pontifications: Boeing’s latest forecast raises more doubt than hope

By Judson Rollins

Oct. 12, 2020, © Leeham News: Every year, like clockwork, when Boeing publishes its 20-year Current Market Outlook, there is always another upward revision in forecast demand for new aircraft.

So, when the Chicago-based OEM admits that demand has taken a long-term hit, you know the situation must be dire.

Last week, Boeing belatedly published its annual CMO forecast for global commercial jet production and services. The forecast was quite a comedown as it marked a 2% fall from Boeing’s previous expectations for aircraft demand, with a whopping 10% drop for widebodies and freighters.

Airbus has withheld its 2020 Global Market Forecast while it continues to assess the impact of COVID-19. Read more

Alaska Airlines may keep leased Airbus fleet

By Olivier Bonnassies

Airfinance Journal

Oct. 9, 2020, (c) Airfinance Journal: Alaska Airlines is believed to be working on a solution regarding its narrowbody fleet composition after initial talks failed with lessors regarding an early phase-out of Airbus A320-family aircraft.The US carrier approached leasing companies in the summer with a large request for proposals (RFP) to replace its entire leased current-generation A320-family fleet with Boeing 737-800, -900ER, Max 8 and Max 9 models over the next few years.

Alaska Airlines may keep a mixed fleet of Airbus A320s and 737s at least through 2025. Lessors are balking at early returns. Photo: Alaska Airlines.

According to Airfinance Journal‘s Fleet Tracker, Alaska has 10 A319s with leases expiring between 2021 and 2023. Another 41 A320s have leases expiring between 2020 and 2025.

But the objective of the RFP is to accelerate the exit of the carrier’s 51 A320-family aircraft ahead of lease expirations as well as sell 10 owned A320s that were manufactured in 2015 and 2016.

But leasing sources talking to Airfinance Journal say the approach was not “well received”.

“They may keep those aircraft to scheduled redelivery dates,” says one lessor.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Do I get COVID in airline cabins? Part 12. New results.

October 9, 2020, ©. Leeham News: We interrupt our series about hydrogen as an energy store for airliners to go back to our previous theme for a Friday or two: Do I get COVID in airline cabins?

IATA, Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer did a joint presentation yesterday about their latest knowledge about COVID and flying, and with the Pandemic entering the second wave in many countries it’s a timely subject.

Figure 1. IATA’s statistics over 1.2 billion passengers flying with 2839 contagious persons on board. 44 others got infected during the flights. Source: IATA.

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 1: the 787-8

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By Vincent Valery


Oct. 8, 2020, © Leeham News: The Dreamliner program is approaching its 1000th delivery less than 10 years after entry into service. It is the fastest-ever delivery ramp-up for any twin-aisle program.

However, the milestone will feel bittersweet due to the upcoming production rate cuts (to six per month from 14) and the decision to close the Everett final assembly line and concentrate final assembly to South Carolina.

As outlined several times before, air travel recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak will take years. Long-haul markets, which the 787 serves, should be last to return to normal.

The above means Boeing will deliver far fewer 787s over the next five years than it envisioned at the beginning of the year. Any significant upgrade of the aircraft is off the table for the foreseeable future. To boost sales and profitability, the American OEM is looking at how to improve its product line at minimal costs.

LNA published an article last month about Boeing’s study into lowering 787-8 production costs.

By the end of August 2020, Boeing had 48, 333, and 145 outstanding orders for the -8, -9, and -10, respectively. LNA estimated the total to be 38, 299, and 145, respectively, after adjusting for orders at risk.

We will, in our series, go through the different models in the product line, their history, and potential for further improvements now that the product line approaches midlife.

  • Significant development problems and delays;
  • A compromise(d) design leads to initial limitations;
  • Deliveries slowed after post-EIS rush;
  • The problem Boeing did not want to address;
  • A long-haul route highlights potential enhancements.

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